The struggles of long Covid


Sidney Hogan

Having Covid-19 was pretty miserable, but I was finally feeling better; long gone were the body aches, high fevers, and unrelenting cough. After missing two weeks of school and swim practice, it was time to get back to a more normal schedule.

   The next two weeks weren’t easy, but I felt happy to be back to my normal routine. I started catching up in my classes and getting back to swim practice every day. 

   What I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it would be to feel 100% better. Swimming felt unfamiliar. My body dragged through the water, and I had to breathe more often than  normal; I had to stop and take breaks more than I ever had in practice. While my teammates happily swam lap after lap, I sat on the wall catching my breath. 

   This continued for a good two weeks; my symptoms got increasingly worse, until it felt like I had Covid-19 again. It was frustrating to feel sick all the time. 

   On top of feeling physically weak, returning to school with a missing assignment or two in every class left me more stressed than any other time this school year. Because of my decreasing energy levels, completing these assignments was more difficult than ever.

      Soon, I learned about Long Covid, also known as Post-Covid Conditions. The CDC describes it as “a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus that causes Covid-19.”

   Since I got Covid-19 at a time when most people were healthy, I felt like I was expected to bounce back quickly when I returned to school. I assumed that I would be slowly welcomed back to a fully normal school environment, but I was wrong. While my peers zoomed ahead in their classwork, I was stuck trying to catch up.

   As time kept going I felt like I was drowning in missing and late assignments. I continued to feel worse and missed school for days at a time. I didn’t have the energy to do anything but lie in bed all day, so I didn’t even attempt to catch up on homework.

   This experience is not unique to me. Many people experience Covid-19 symptoms long after their initial infection. Sr. Danielle Arch dealt with side effects of Covid-19 months after her infection.  “After I had Covid I wasn’t able to taste anything for two months and I didn’t get my smell back for three to four months,” Arch said.

   Dealing with these symptoms long-term can be a hindrance when it comes to school work. In 2021, when vaccines weren’t widely available, students could miss school for weeks at a time for either becoming infected or being exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. During that time it was difficult to catch up with homework and missing assignments; in 2022, that hasn’t changed.

   Coming back to school with a load of missing assignments is stressful, and for those dealing with symptoms of Covid-19, it’s especially difficult. Soph. Ella Sandstedt understands this experience. ”I felt like my teachers didn’t know how stressful it would be to try and get back into learning after being isolated from everyone who shows you support.”

   The CDC estimates that 13.3% of people infected with Covid-19 experience post-Covid conditions for one month or longer after infection. If this is accurate, it is likely that West Ottawa students returning to school after having Covid-19 are experiencing post-Covid conditions.

   West Ottawa could do a better job of making students comfortable when coming back to school after contracting Covid-19. Getting clear instructions about what assignments are necessary to complete is just one way to make life easier for students experiencing post-Covid conditions. Exempting work would relieve stress these students feel to complete a pile of missing assignments.

   Offering edited assignments would also be a big help for students returning to school. Group assignments aren’t designed for one student to complete. If they can’t be exempted, making an individual version of the assignment would be less time consuming.

   Above all, being patient with students returning to school after getting Covid-19 is the most important step staff can take. It might take longer than normal to complete missing assignments for students who still feel sick. Whether we realize it or not, people are still getting Covid-19 and some will experience symptoms for months after. It’s time to accommodate those people at West Ottawa.